Wolf Making Progress on Goal to Reduce Barriers to Employment in PA

(Tom Wolf is raising the roof...on licensing rules that make it harder to find work in Pennsylvania) Nearly 25% of all U.S. workers now need a license from the state to do their job, thanks to a growing tangle of state-level employment laws known as occupational licensing. Continue reading

Hyper-Local Funding and Inequality of Public Services

(Image: Most PA local tax bases are too small to do anything real) With a patchwork of over 2,500 different municipalities, 500 school districts, and over 1,500 different special authorities making up the most local layer of local government in most of Pennsylvania, most areas of the Commonwealth aren't terribly well-governed at the municipal level. That's because the skimpy local tax bases that result from so much fragmentation can support only bare-bones services in many places—and a great many PA local governments don't even have all the basics covered, with fully half of them lacking even a local police department.  Continue reading

The Case for Unbundling Parking and Housing

(At 1213 Walnut, you can rent just a home without a parking spot | Photo: Jon Geeting) Parking is a sensitive subject these days, with a few central and south Philadelphia neighborhoods seeing overnight curb parking occupancy rates nearing 100% or more, and little appetite from our elected officials to address the problem at the source by managing curb turnover. Instead, some elected officials want to approach the problem by increasing parking requirements for new or repurposed buildings in a vain attempt to fix the curb parking crunch. Some new research out of Boston helps illustrate why this approach not only doesn't work, but creates even more problems than it solves. Continue reading

The PA Suburban County Races to Watch This Fall

(Delaware County Democratic slate | Photo: MediaNews Group File Photo, Delco Times) Philadelphia has a more interesting general election than usual this year, with a competitive District Council race in the far Northeast in District 10, and what appears to be one of the more organized efforts yet to elect left-wing candidates Kendra Brooks and Pastor Nic O'Rourke to the non-majority party At-Large Council seats now held by Republicans Al Taubenberger and David Oh.  Continue reading

Court Ruling Points the Way Forward for Fixing Land Assessments

A Court of Common Pleas decision throwing out the City's methodology for assessing land under condo buildings could potentially open the door to a new way of assessing land citywide if the decision withstands City appeals.  Continue reading

Why Is City Council Ducking the Official Process for Big Zoning Changes?

A week before the May primaries, Council President Clarke and 10th District Councilor Brian O'Neill introduced a little-noticed resolution creating a new Council-controlled Zoning Code Review Commission that will be tasked with making big changes to the reformed zoning code passed fewer than 10 years ago in 2011. The Commission would be staffed entirely by Clarke and O'Neill, two of Council's most retrograde housing thinkers, rather than going through the official process that voters adopted in a 2007 Charter change for these kinds of commissions—the Zoning Code Commission.  Continue reading

As Neighborhood Populations Grow, Board of Elections Creates New Voting Divisions

(Proposed new division 5-36 | Image: Board of Elections) With the Census in the news lately there's been a lot of talk about how the once-a-decade population count could impact districting in 2021, and we've also been highlighting the need for people to tune into City Council redistricting too, which will happen within the six months after the Census numbers are released. It's also worth pulling back the curtain a bit on how even smaller districts are drawn at the smallest possible level—the division—which we're seeing right now with the Board of Elections' latest petition filing to redraw several voting divisions, and even create a few new ones, ahead of the November general election.  Continue reading

Why Should We Care About Council Side Gigs?

(Photo: Philadelphia City Council) City Council side jobs are back in the news this week, with Jeremy Roebuck reporting from federal court on the arguments over whether Bobby Henon's salaried position with IBEW Local 98 amounts to a bribe by federal standards.  Continue reading

Wolf to Bond $90 Million to Help Counties Pay for New Voting Machines

In the latest twist in the great voting machine replacement saga of 2019, Governor Tom Wolf announced a plan to bond $90 million to help counties cover the cost of purchasing new voting machines.  Continue reading

Let 16-Year-Olds Vote in Local Elections

10th District Republican Council member Brian O'Neill is putting the finishing touches on his "Get Off My Lawn" platform for his 11th reelection campaign in Northeast Philadelphia, first banning food trucks from his entire district, and then endorsing the use of sonic waves to mess with teenagers' ears if they enter city parks after closing.  Continue reading